Charges for two counts of Abuses against Chastity to be filed against a Labor Attache; Acts of Lasciviousness charges to be filed against a former employee of the POLO

25 June 2014

The DOJ's National Prosecution Service (NPS) resolved two separate cases on "sex for flight" for alleged attempted rape and abuses against chastity filed by four (4) female Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs, Complainants  “A”,  “B”, “C” and “D”) working in Saudi Arabia, and recommended the following actions:

I.   Anent the complaint against Respondent Labor Attache  (Labor Attache):

     a.  The complaint of Complainant A (COMPLAINANT A) be dismissed without prejudice for failure to appear during preliminary investigation;

     b. The complaint of Complainant B (COMPLAINANT B) be dismissed for lack of probable cause; and

     c. The complaint of Complainant C (COMPLAINANT C) for two (2) counts of abuses against chastity be filed before the appropriate court.

II.  The filing of Information for acts of  lasciviousness  by Complainant D against the driver of another Labor Attache (Respondent Driver), before the appropriate court.

With respect to the first case, Complainant B claimed that while she was working as a household worker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, her employer Mohammad Soliman Alnweser raped her; that she proceeded to the Riyadh Clinic and Respondent Labor Attache brought her to the Bahay Kalinga, a shelter for distressed OFWs; that Respondent Labor Attaché was so vulgar in asking questions as to how she was raped; that there was a time when she followed up her case that Respondent Labor Attaché offered her to do a part-time job so she could buy a ticket and easily go home to the Philippines; that when she asked Respondent Labor Attaché what the job would be, the latter did not answer; and that she found out later that the women in the Bahay Kalinga were being offered a part-time job of “sex for flight”.

Complainant C alleged that her ordeal as a household worker in Saudi Arabia started when she was forced by her employer to work for almost twenty four (24) hours a day, and was even  imprisoned for two (2) days without water and food; that she went to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) on 05 February 2013, and Respondent Labor Attaché interviewed and brought her to the Bahay Kalinga; that on their way to the Bahay Kalinga, Respondent Labor Attaché asked if her employer touched her private parts, and if not, would she allow him to do it; that on April 2013, a certain “Muhammad” called and offered her a part-time job of having a one night stand; that she recognized the voice as that of Respondent Labor Attaché since she has been calling the latter at least thrice a week for the past two (2) months; the  following day, “Muhammad” called again and asked for her photo wearing just a panty and bra for his sexual satisfaction, but she refused; that the caller immediately mentioned of personal circumstances which were known only to Respondent Labor Attaché as her case officer; that when she returned to the Philippines on 26 May 2013, she learned that her agency had already bought a plane ticket to the Philippines for her as early as 27 February 2013.

As to Complainant A, she failed to appear during the preliminary investigation despite several subpoenas sent to her.

Respondent Labor Attaché denied offering a part-time job to Complainant B, and having a telephone conversation with Complainant C.

In resolving the first case, Assistant State Prosecutor Natilaine T. Salvilla applied Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which mandates the enforceability of our criminal laws even outside the jurisdiction of the Philippines, against those who, while being officers or employees, should commit an offense in the exercise of their functions.

The NPS related Article 2 to Article 245(1) of the RPC which defines abuses against chastity as any public officer who shall solicit or make immoral or indecent advances to a woman interested in matters pending before such officer for decision, or with respect to which he is required to submit a report or consult with a superior officer.

On the basis of these relevant laws, the Assistant State Prosecutor maintained that since Respondent Labor Attaché was the case officer of Complainants B and C his recommendation was vital for the repatriation of the complainants. In other words, any sexual molestation or solicitation committed by Respondent Labor Attaché against the complainants in relation to their repatriation is considered an offense in the exercise of his functions.

The NPS resolved that considering that only the two of them were inside the car, Respondent Labor Attaché made an indecent proposal to Complainant C when the former asked the latter if her employer touched her private parts, and if her employer did not, would she allow him to do it. Further, the claims of Complainant C as to the offensive telephone conversations with Respondent Labor Attaché were found to be meritorious based on the following circumstances: that there was a prior indecent proposal from Respondent Labor Attaché; that the said sexual solicitation was in relation to Complainant C's repatriation; that the caller told Complainant C facts which were known only to Respondent Labor Attaché as her case officer; that Complainant C was familiar with Respondent Labor Attaché's voice over the phone; and that Respondent Labor Attaché failed to allege any reason why Complainant C would charge him with the said offenses if they were not true.

As to the complaint of Complainant B, the NPS observed that her accusation was obviously a mere suspicion or presumption; that Respondent Labor Attaché never elaborated what the part-time job would be; and that Complainant B even admitted  during the clarificatory hearing that it was only her presumption that the job offer would be for sex for flight when she heard the news of distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia being offered a part-time job of sex for flight.

On the other hand, the second case involved the complaint filed by Complainant D against Respondent Driver, a former employee of the POLO. Complainant D alleged that while working as a household service worker in Saudi Arabia, she was maltreated by her employer; that she was given shelter by Labatt Musa at the home base of the POLO office, and was given a job as janitress at the POLO office; that two (2) weeks after, Respondent Driver, the driver of Labatt Musa started sexually molesting her by embracing, kissing, and touching her private parts; that on 21 August 2012, a holiday, she was told by Respondent Driver to report for work; that in the evening, when all the employees who reported for work were gone, Respondent Driver embraced her and kissed her lips; that Respondent Driver forcibly raised her clothes and fondled her breast; that she shouted but Respondent Driver did not stop; that Respondent Driver pushed her in front of a table, pulled down her leggings, inserted his hand between her legs, and touched her vagina while he tried to kiss her lips; that it was only when her hip hit the corner of the table did Respondent Driver stop assaulting her; that when she reported the matter to Labatt Musa, the latter suggested to settle the case; that Labatt Musa sent her 10,000 Saudi riyal through a certain Edith and Ana, and promised to terminate the services of Respondent Driver and to give her a certain authorization in order that her status in Saudi Arabia would be legalized; and that she accepted the offer of Labatt Musa, but the latter failed to fulfill his promises.

The subpoena against Respondent Driver was returned unserved with a note that he had already resigned from service since 01 July 2013, and was already a local hired employee in Saudi Arabia.

Although the POLO is considered as an attached agency, the same is still under the Philippine Embassy since one of the functions of an embassy is to promote the rights and welfare of Filipinos overseas which is usually done by the POLO. Since the Philippine Embassy is an extension of the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines, any offense committed within the premises of the POLO may be tried in our country. The principle of extra-territoriality, as mentioned in the case of Labor Attaché, was likewise applied in resolving the case of Respondent Driver.

The Assistant State Prosecutor noted that Respondent Driver was not only the personal driver of Labatt Musa, but he was also an employee of POLO who drove distressed OFWs in going to and coming from the shelter to the POLO; and that any offense committed by an official or employee of the POLO to the OFWs can be considered as an offense in the exercise of his functions.

Although the Assistant State Prosecutor gave credence to the accounts made by Complainant D in relation to the overt acts committed by Respondent Driver on the evening of 21 August 2012, no sufficient evidence was found showing that Respondent Driver would like to have carnal knowledge with her at that moment as to constitute attempted rape. It was ruled that the acts committed by Respondent Driver simply falls within the purview of acts of lasciviousness as defined under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code.

The charge for abuse of chastity was similarly held to be bereft of  merit. Since Respondent Driver is a mere driver of a Labor Attaché, it cannot be said that Complainant D was interested in matters pending before him, or that Respondent Driver had recommendatory powers with respect to her case or her repatriation.

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